National convention report

Board member Phil Rudell represented the chapter at the national convention in New Orleans and submitted this report to the board explaining his votes:

Our chapter was awarded 2 delegate votes. I voted for the candidacies of Taylor Mirfendereski of Ohio University and Gideon Grudo of Florida Atlantic University. Grudo made an impressive speech from the convention floor. Both were elected from among 5 candidates. In the only other contested race, I voted for Carl Corry of New York for national director at large. The incumbent, Bill McClosky, was re-elected. I encouraged Corry, who made a positive impression, to run again for SPJ office.

On contested issues, the one with the most far-reaching consequences was one-member, one-vote, which was overwhelmingly approved in a voice vote. This bylaw change, which I favored, provides for the direct election of the SPJ national officers, instead of by the delegate system. Resolutions and bylaws changes will continue to be decided by delegates to the national convention. Many in SPJ leadership had resisted direct election for years, but the strong arguments in favor of direct election overwhelmed the opposition this time. Technology would allow the voting by the 8,000-member national organization at an annual cost not to exceed $5,000. Actual cost would likely be much less than that. Members within regions would directly elect their regional directors.

I’m glad the chapter gave me the latitude to vote as I saw fit because speeches from the floor changed my mind on restoring the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award. I joined 84 others in defeating a resolution to restore the award; 71 delegates voted in favor of restoration. Thomas had intensified her anti-Israel remarks of late to include disparaging comments about Jewish domination of the media. The national board’s decision to halt the award was correct.

A bid to overturn the national dues increase was soundly defeated. National dues for pros will rise by $3 and by $1.50 for students.

Region 4 meeting: The star system of rating chapters will be replaced by a method of rating chapters either “in compliance” or “not in compliance.” All pro chapters with Region 4 were represented at the meeting. All pro chapters are in good standing except for Pittsburgh, but I’m not sure what the problem is with that chapter. Regional Director James Pilcher of Cincinnati will be leaving office next year and encourages anyone who wants to replace him to step forward.

The Region 4 conference will be March 23 and 24 in East Lansing, MI.